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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Matchbox Dodge Dakota

It’s not often that Matchbox gets into small trucks, as they only play a handful of them every so often.  Ford Courier, Mitsubishi L200, and the Dodge Dakota.  Despite the complicated assembly setup the Dakota has the most coolest look of the bunch all while retaining the stock look, with two different variations.

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Getting tired of relying on a Mitsubishi-based pickup while other Detroit competitors offered their own compact truck, Dodge finally developed their own by 1987 with the Dakota.  This truck uses lots of various parts from the Ram to the Chrysler K-car sedans.  In 1989 Carroll Shelby got his hands on the Dakota to create a V8-powered convertible, unheard of in a pickup.  In 1992 the Dakota got a restyled hood that was lengthened to accomidate the 5.2 V8 motor all the time.  In the beginning, the Dakota had a choice of an I-4 or a 3.9L V6 that produces 175 hp. Through either a 5-speed manual or four-speed automatic and through a part-time four-wheel drive system with transfer case.  All of that is detailed on the base, though the thick center section is for the working suspension tab.  It’s also interesting to note that the bases between the original and the McDonald’s version is the at the rear where the McD’s version uses one rivet and the rear bumper is part of the metal body.

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The bodies are also different despite the similar look.  The front has the eggcrate grille with flush headlight lenses and truck-like front bumper.  The rear has the rectangular taillights with the detailed ridges and DODGE letters on the tailgate.  The rollbar in the bed is pretty neat, though comes off easily and poses a choking hazard; the McD’s version solves this problem by replacing the rollbar with roof-mounted lights which are rather large (I much prefer a cleaner look than this).  The McD’s version comes with Hot Wheels-style lace wheels, no suspension moving parts (all versions starting in 2001 had this change), and it comes with Texas stickers for the State car series, but I opted to remove them.  The blue one was from a Garage 5-pack in 2004 (?), while the red and silver version was originally the red with white graphics 1993 version, but with paint coming off on all corners it was time for a repaint.  After a douse in red and silver the outcome looks good, though I would’ve changed out the windows for a plastic clear one instead of the black printer paper version (the original was so fragile it disintegrated during cleaning).

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The bed has ridge details and is at least all metal, with the McD’s version opening up more room with the rollbar removed.  Downside of the McD’s version is no interior; you’d have to go for the other Dakota castings to see the car-like interior with a dash layout similar to the car lines.  The bench seat has room for three people, and I’m guessing the lack of the floor shifter means this is an automatic with a column-shifter (though the transfer case lever would be on the floor.  It is simple and efficient, as does the details of this Matchbox casting.  It would be nice to see this casting reincarnated again in the Matchbox line, but for now the only chance to get this sporty Dakota is on the secondary market.

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